Let me tell you a personal story about pet food rendering and why I cannot recommend many of the cat food brands many cat parents are currently feed their cats. Before I get started, let me define “rendering”.
Pet food rendering is when you take elements that are otherwise unfit for consumption, heat them to an extreme degree to kill disease and extract it as a product that is now fit for consumption. Wikipedia defines it as ‘a process that converts waste animal tissue into stable, value-added materials.”
My dad worked in a rendering plant when I was a senior in high school. He had worked several plant jobs in the past and this specific plant was very well known in our small Tennessee town. It was mainly well known because of it’s smell. If you were within 10-15 miles of this rendering plant (depending on the wind that day), you knew to hold your breath. When we saw roadkill on the side of the highway, we knew that this plant was going to be picking it up.
What’s funny is that no one seemed to care what was being processed in this plant at that time. I didn’t. I only knew that they picked up our roadkill and dead farm animals and the plant smelled horrific. My mom had to hose my dad off before coming in the house after work each day. Even then, the smell in our home was so bad that I would go stay with friends because I couldn’t handle it.
He laughingly called it “protein”
As it turns out, this was a pet food rendering plant that took dead animals as well as other gross stuff and converted them into pet food ingredients. He told me horror stories of what went through that processor. Sometimes tarps and scissors got caught in the machine and were processed through as by-products. He laughingly called it “protein”. The grease, grime, and entire dead and rotting animals he had to put into the machine was overwhelming, even to him. At night he would go out back for a smoke and watch as the Purina and Pedigree trucks rolled in to pick up their ingredients.
My dad didn’t keep that job for long.
Fast forward to today and we know about the deceit of the pet food industry, yet they’ve still got many pet parents convinced that this is not their practice. So I decided to do some research…
Here is this plants profile that’s easily accessible online:
“Privately held and family run, Griffin Industries, Inc., is the second largest independent rendering company in the United States. Griffin collects a variety of waste products, including used restaurant cooking oil; offal, scraps, and hides from slaughterhouses, packing houses, and butchers; poultry feathers; dead farm animals; supermarket discards; and inedible bakery waste from the production of bread, dough, pasta, crackers, cereal, bagels, sweet goods, and snack chips. These materials are transported by a fleet of company trucks to Griffin recycling plants, where they are converted into saleable products. Animal proteins, feeding fats and tallows, and bakery meal are sold as animal feed and converted by other manufacturers into pet food. Bakery waste is converted into Cookie Meal, a corn replacement ingredient used to make animal feed or pet food.”
My next question was, are these hugely popular pet food companies still clients of this pet food rendering process? So I contacted the company. A representative confirmed with me (and then said she wasn’t “for sure”) that both Pedigree & Purina were still clients. Because she retracted, I contacted my friends who still live in that town. A manager from the plant confirmed that both companies “and many other pet food companies” are still clients of this rendering plant.
What this tell me is that pet food companies are still rendering dead, diseased animals, roadkill and other always inedible material and adding to our cat’s food – EVEN WHEN the bag claims “nutritious” or “healthy”.
Once you know something, you can never again un-know it. I only wish I’d known it sooner. I cringe to think of the nutritional abuse we put our cats through for so many years. Never again. This is why I cannot and will never recommend these big brand pet food companies that use these horrible ingredients to any cat loving pet parent. Period.